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Economy

What Will Become of Levittown, Pennsylvania?

The archetypal postwar suburb has less socioeconomic diversity—and hardly more racial diversity—than it did in the 1950s.
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When we think of suburbia, we think of Levittown. The neat ranks of houses, each with its own square of lawn, arrayed along gently curving lanes. The neighborhood public school, just a few blocks away, and parks with black tops, playgrounds, and picnic pavilions.

Although the Long Island iteration of this suburban ideal is perhaps more famous, it is in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, to the northeast of Philadelphia, that William Levitt’s vision was fully realized. The farmers of Nassau County, New York, didn’t much care for the idea of a bunch of urban expats making their homes among the fields. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, though, Levitt sent local real estate agents in to quickly and quietly buy up spinach and broccoli farms on the cheap.